Exploring the Gumboot Capital of the World

Well, we’ve been in the Gumboot Capital of the World for a whole day now and have discovered what it means to really be in the gumboot capital. For those of you who don’t know, a gumboot is waterproof footwear of a typical farmer in New Zealand. Some of you may know it as a Welly or booty. In New Zealand, it is gumboot. Taihape, a New Zealand town everyone is likely to pass through at least once while they are in New Zealand on the way between Wellington and Auckland on State Highway 1, not only has a giant gumboot sculpture at the entrance of the town but it also hosts a gumboot throwing competition every year. When we look at a map of Taihape in the Rusty Nail Backpackers and see there is actually a “Gumboot Throwing Lane” we are there in a heartbeat joined by a fellow backpacker staying in the hostel with us, Garret from Hungary.

The BackpackerGuide.NZ Gumboot Throwing Competition 2016

Forget rugby, forget cricket, gumboot throwing is the ultimate sport in New Zealand! Gumboots are scattered across the muddy patch of grass in between two high fences with the metres marked on the fence. God, we need to wear gumboots to compete in this sport! We didn’t even get this filthy when we did dairy farming! Gumboot throwing is a fun sport for the first five minutes – it really is! We make the most out of that hilarious five minutes of enjoyment. Garret is the winner of the BackpackerGuide.NZ Gumboot Throwing Competition 2016. He would like to thank his parents for giving him his first gumboot when he was a youngster, which shaped him to becoming the gumboot thrower he is today.

The Official Taihape Gumboot Throwing Lane. We are honoured. The Official Taihape Gumboot Throwing Lane. We are honoured.
On top of the world!... in Taihape On top of the world!... in Taihape
Garret playing tour guide Garret playing tour guide

A walk up Mt Stewart with the Gumboot champion

There’s one more thing we absolutely need to do before we leave Taihape: climb Mt Stewart. What we love about New Zealand is that you can almost always rely on a nearby mountain or hill to climb as a free activity. Mt Stewart may be only a 10-minute walk to the summit, but it’s still a hill, Goddammit!

Starting from the giant gumboot, the three of us walk up to the top passing through a variety of native trees. Some of them have an information board in front of them identifying the tree, much like the signs we saw a couple of days ago on the awesome Mangawhero Forest Track. (These tree signs must be made in bulk somewhere?)

Have a look at that 360 picture of that 360 degree view!

The final push on this EXTREME 10-minute walk is up the stairs to a viewing platform. There we have it: the best vantage point in Taihape. The town is spread out in all directions below Mt Stewart, with rolling green hills in the distance. Right through the middle of town is State Highway 1 and a railway with trains sounding their horn every 10-minutes or so.

Here, we part ways with Garret, the gumboot champion, who needs the time to drive to Ohakune, where we came from a couple of days ago. (And, quite frankly, hiking with us can be quite a nightmare when we are getting images for the blog, guide and documenting everything for a web series coming out next year). It was awesome to have him along for the morning and we congratulate him on making it this far!

We are back down the mountain in no time despite being totally distracted by a group of fantails doing some acrobatics and chirping like crazy. They are so cute. We love these native birds.

A wet ride to Palmerston North A wet ride to Palmerston North
Bulls: even finding hilarious pus in family violence... Bulls: even finding hilarious pus in family violence...

A giant plane on the side of the road

Next stop: Palmerston North. If you thought the Gumboot town was quirky, we are about to pass through a few more towns charmingly Kiwi in the way that they just make their towns as fun and weird as possible! We love it!

Our first noteworthy town is Mangaweka! Not only is the town known for being the base of a real cool kayaking trip that we have been desperate to do but the river level has been too dangerous the past few days, but it has a great big DC-3 aircraft just chilling in the middle of town. What the hell?! So random!

The punniest town in New Zealand

Then we enter Bulls, the most “punny” town in New Zealand. Every opportunity to add a bulls pun to a sign has been taken up in this town, starting with the most hilarious: a social advertisement board for family violence saying: “Family violence is not accept-a-bull”. Tactful, Bulls, tactful. There are various other signs we spot, such as the Police Station saying: “Consta-bull”, McDonald’s saying: “Consumer-bull”, and a milk bottle saying: “Responsi-bull”. That’s only the ones we spot, we know there are more in the town!

A backpackers… with snacks!!

Our road trip for the day ends at the Railway Hotel Backpackers in Palmerston North. We arrive a little early so we take a look around the backpackers before we meet our host, Garry. Wow! This place has so much character! Every wall is covered in paintings, the floor with many colourful rugs, and we particularly love the staircase decorated with clocks set to times from cities all over the world. It reminds us of when we stayed at the Republic of Whangamomona Hotel but at backpacker prices. When we meet Garry and he gives us a tour of the rooms and facilities, we are especially amazed by the fact that he puts snacks in every single room! Even the bunk rooms. There’s free tea, coffee (plunger coffee at that) and milk. It’s stupid, but we get so excited by these little inclusions because, damn, it’s nice to have chocolate or cookies once in a while! It’s not something we usually indulge too much in when we are trying to save money on food.

Anyway, we’re just going to stuff our faces while we plan tomorrow’s adventure. Maybe kite boarding on Foxton Beach?

Laura and Robin

Gumboot throwing in 360 degrees! Mind blowing!
Gumboot throwing in 360 degrees! Mind blowing! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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